In a mark of the immense growth in character Sam Long has gone through since the beginning of his professional career, the American has taken the high road in his eagerly anticipated media response to the penalty that killed his podium prospects at the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships in St George this past weekend.
‘It’s been a difficult few days’
This past Saturday, Long was handed a highly controversial penalty for a drafting offence (though there was a degree of confusion as to exactly what point it applied to), which effectively ended his race before he had gotten halfway through the competition, made even more sour by the fact Long had skipped Kona to focus on St George.
Speaking on his YouTube channel (video embedded above), he runs through the whole race, detailing how his emotions fluctuated.
He said: “I hadn’t been this excited about a race maybe in my whole life, I was really positive about it.”
Talking about the lead up to the point he incurred the penalty he explained: “Things started to get pretty complicated. I caught this absolutely massive group – it must have been 25 to 30 people – and what’s so funny about it is that I remember coming up to the back of the group and thinking this is going to be an absolute nightmare.
“Literally the only thought in my mind was to figure out how to get to the front of this group without getting a penalty – don’t do anything fast, don’t do anything crazy, don’t show off my ego, just be as smart as possible.
“I’ve never got a drafting penalty before so I couldn’t remember what blue or yellow was so I asked the ref – I honestly thought maybe one of my plastic bags had fallen off and I was getting an unintentional littering penalty.”
Back at Arizona
Long’s post-race response had been eagerly anticipated – and the maturity and attitude he’s shown has since been widely praised – with the stance echoed in his Instagram post where he says he’s come to the decision that “moving on is the best thing for me”, adding that “the commitment I put into the race changed me as a person and the work and time is not lost”.
Long also confirmed that he intends to now race IRONMAN Arizona in three weeks and potentially 70.3 Indian Wells after that.
Finally, Long addressed the fact that a technicality cost him a great race. He cited his penalty as a catalyst for change, stating that “the racing has evolved and the rules must follow. Let’s all work together on this to make a positive change”.
It will be interesting to see if this episode proves pivotal in changing the way IRONMAN officiates races.